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Ognjenka Lakićević, Poetry


Walk over the entire childhood
crush and smash all of it down
say it was all just a deception
born out of kind parental intentions
they knew nothing of me watching them talk
(if one could call that a talk)
this sadness the world could live on for centuries
and the oceans could feed off,
is not mine
eliminate the childhood
and the roots of rampant plants
growing wild today
there is no free will
something else is ruling over us
the DNA is just a family neurosis
nothing too visible, too loud,
it thievishly avoids being defined
you prefer calling to mind the laughter at the table
but remember the unspoken, remember
there must be reasons
why I did not
draw the curtain at 2 in the afternoon
darkness is darkness

your hair is not on the pillow next to me
but I can clearly see the face of betrayal
breathing endlessly in the room
I alter my blood
every breath is a struggle
I sense a solution without
drawing the curtain
walking in nature
spiritual gurus
motivational speeches
without you
I will see the light
dim and fickle
but still a light
I share my secrets only with the loyal ones:
thousands of fireflies sleep in my pillow
you have not made an effort to see them
thousands of fireflies sleep in my pillow
thousands of tiny fireflies are ready to rise


I bumped my leg with all my strength
against the bed frame
just below the knee,
where the bruises look so utterly beautiful
that brief twenty-second moment
when the pain spread relentlessly throughout my body
just a tiny bit more deeply than the thought of you
touching the bruise
the way I had taught you
to touch me
was the best part of the day


I would set the world on fire
just so the moment it started burning
I could use my body to extinguish it
and apologize to everyone
I am revolted by so many things in people
and when I see them in you
I write poems
you leaning back on my hair
unaware of pulling it
and then messing it up even more
by trying to get it right
sometimes I want to leave everything and disappear
and say – I am leaving, you should too
I just want to hear you say
no, nobody is leaving anywhere
a sulking child will mellow down if you caress its hair
but I do not hear you say anything and I worry
I did not mean it
I apologize to everyone
I do not understand your gaze
as you look through my transparent lungs
to find the reservoir
stopping me from giving up on you
in the middle of a storm and
making me give up on myself too easily
in the middle of an epidemic
of people so in love with themselves
I hold on to you as on to a talisman
terrible things will happen
if I lose you
dry twigs crack
just because of the childlike way
you tie your laces
I search the IKEA website
for the right table for you
and for some cosier pillows maybe
to tell you welcome home
even though I repeat that tirelessly
your hug is like water
pouring down my body
I search my apartment for the pieces of your clothes
everything here
looks like theatre props
still life
is what my apartment is these days
the furniture can confirm
what happens in the dark
the silverware sobs in the kitchen
those nights you are not around
the faucet is my witness
ask the floor, ask the remote control
they were there
they were surprised
if terrible things happen
I will be left with no one inside me
I believe everything you say
in the schoolyard they kept telling me
you are always so reckless, always
I do not listen, I just start running
do not get fooled by
my credit card
I use it to impress
the IKEA and bank clerks
be gentle with me
as with a child
when you say abandonment
children hear death


you carefully enclose each new day
in your herbarium
my herbariums are miniature graves
because I am afraid of death
you are a herbarium engineer.
you collect your plants until they lose
their green blood
until they lose their scent
your herbariums
they open up curiously:
edelweiss, fern, thyme,
rosemary, lovage
(lovage is invincible)
youth despises roots
but my entire life
adapts quite well
on one single page
of your herbarium
memories ferment
my fears elude any form

Ognjenka Lakićević was born and still lives in Belgrade. She graduated from the Faculty of Philology. Her collection of poems: Ispod stepeništa (Under the staircase, 2002, Mali Nemo), Ulubljenja (Indents, Internet edition), Troje (Three, 2016, Samizdat, group of authors), Ljubavna pisma Guglu (Love letters to Google, Književna radionica Rasic, 2017). She is a member of an alternative rock band “Autopark”. Since 2014, she’s been regularly realizing poetry workshops. Her latest collection of poems titled Vodič kroz požare (A guide to surviving fires) was published in October 2019.


Translator, Kruna Petrić is a 28-year-old English teacher living in Belgrade. She has been working with English students of various age for 5 years and translating texts, articles, research papers and text-books relating to business, marketing, entrepreneurship, etc. Her goal is to completely shift to translating literature, be it poetry or (non)fiction. Her English word of choice is curiosity!






Read the other texts published in the Poetry section.

This article was originally published in Serbian and you can read it here. Translated into English by Kruna Petrić.

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